Friday, 17 May 2013

Tenjo Tenge - Complete

After 11 2-in-1 volumes released at a fairly merciless rate, Tenjo Tenge reaches its conclusion, and to be honest, I’m kind of glad it’s over.

I’ve spoken about this series before, enjoying its mindless indulgence of boobs and violence as it smacks its way through thousands of pages, and it really should have stayed its course.  Sadly the series starts to believe its own hype by upping the drama and becoming damn-near incomprehensible.  Suddenly the simple premise of a martial arts tournament becomes a po-faced battle fought both on the physical and spiritual planes where the world is at stake in between multi-generational conspiracies.  Flashbacks bounce around between multiple timelines and the core cast get lost in a steady stream of a dead-end side characters and plots that add little to the overall mix.
The artwork has improved immensely since the first volume and now provides some of the most clean and technically accomplished work in a mainstream manga.  Every page has impact, but telling the difference between someone getting mauled only metaphorically while other characters receive permanent damage only causes confusion.  Seeing a character ripped apart for example, only for them to get back up on the next page lessens the dramatic impact for when things actually do happen.  It continually undermines itself by psyching you out at every turn.

Oh Great! does great work and easily impresses on a visual level, and Tenjo Tenge produces one crazy ride overall, but in terms of concise storytelling there’s still room for improvement (I’ve read a chunk of Air Gear, and to be honest I have a similar opinion of it).  Go to be dazzled, but not fulfilled.

Random Whale Metaphor

Thursday, 16 May 2013

That Manga Intro...

Before anime, there was Manga!  And it was blowing your mind into the 21st century…

In a time when no one knew what the hell anime was in the UK, or perhaps more cynically when marketers assumed ‘anime’ would be more difficult to remember or pronounce, Manga Video was a video label formed by Island World Communications in an attempt to capitalise on Akira’s success in the early 1990s.  As they were treading into untested territory, they had to establish a clear statement as to what the company was about.  As a result, virtually every release by Manga Video on VHS was headed by a minute-long intro to get viewers into the mood for whatever title they’d bought.

For better or worse this clip became a defining moment for a certain generation of fans.  The tabloid-grabbing tentacle porn and obscene violence were what anime was all about back then, and the stereotype was only knocked on the head when Pokemon arrived on the scene and gave everyone epileptic fits.

This is all old news and people have been through it enough times already, but I thought it’d be fun to break the clip down anyway for those less familiar or the nostalgia-heads.  The clip is made from 6 different titles, which also formed the initial batch of Manga’s releases in the UK.  They were:

Dominion Tank Police (OVAs 1-4)
Project A-KO
Venus Wars
Fist of the North Star (1986 movie)

It’s quite a strong line up of titles, most of which are still well regarded 20 years later (sorry Odin…).  The famous ‘What’s happening’ line at the end of the clip is from the old Streamline dub of Akira, and the music was from the intro of a track called ‘The Heart Beneath’ by Celtic Frost.

…that’s pretty much all I wanted to talk about it.  It’s an iconic thing from a certain age, and conjures up images of a time when anime was a bit more crazy, swear-filled and unpredictable.  Of course things have moved on, but this was given decade to burn itself into fandom’s collective brain, so it seems cruel not to give it a bit of recognition today.